A thing has a commanding presence. A commodity is disposable and throwaway.

In his book, Consumer Detox: Less Stuff, More Life, author Mark Powley discusses what’s he’s learned about the difference:

“The problem comes when our world becomes so full of commodities that they squeeze out the things that make life meaningful. Instead of a deep world of satisfying engagement, we end up with a shallow world of disposable stuff.”

As an example, Powley describes the differences between a fire and a radiator. The fire offered deeper meaning in life. It offered time to slow down as one stared into the flames. It offered community, ritual, and tradition while families sat around, telling stories and sharing together.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “We had such a great time gathered around the radiator/heat vent last night!”?

Both items offer the same benefit – warmth. But only one can offer a deeper and more fulfilled life.

I began thinking about my own life. Where are the disposable, shallow items of life overtaking the important and deeper things in life?

I love all the social media stuff, but I can see it being a disposable thing compared to face-to-face, geographically close connections. It’s awesome to play music with people, but watching music online is much different. It’s fun to talk and visit with family and friends, but it can easily be watered down while screens are present and the focus shifts to being halfway there.

Taking a hike is deep. Walking on the treadmill is shallow. Doing it is not bad, and a little exercise is better than none. But the deeper things in life go beyond the thing itself – they affect us. We feel the affects when we have taken in the beauty of nature; seen one of the amazing wonders of the world; or experienced joy and pleasure in wading in the ocean or standing near a waterfall.

Even food can be shallow or deep. Fast (under ten minutes), cheap, drive through food is shallow. Longer meals can be deep and meaningful; Their conversations, eye contact, connections, relaxation, friendship, and community impact our lives beyond nutrition and fuel.

What does this mean for me? What are my takeaways from this section of this book?

I want to live in the deep. I want to stay reminded of God’s faithfulness in this life by experiencing and enjoying all His blessings. I don’t want to fill my life with shallow things that cost so much that I spend all my time trying to pay for stuff that doesn’t promote a deeper life.

There are probably many ways I have stuffed my life full of commodities and I don’t even notice.

My action step is to start taking more notice … for myself, my family, our ministry, and our church. I want to focus on the deeper stuff over the disposable.


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